Robot worm laughs off your attempts to squash it dead

Hammer time: Meshworm's soft body can absorb crushing blows without damage.

Video screenshot by Tim Hornyak/CNET)

From snakes to fish to cheetahs, we’ve seen a veritable Noah’s Ark of biomimetic robots in recent years, and now researchers have turned to the lowly earthworm for inspiration.

Meshworm is a squishy, sluglike droid that stretches and squeezes its artificial muscles to move forward. This peristalsis is similar to how worms travel and how your guts move food around.

Researchers at Harvard University, MIT, and Seoul National University say Meshworm could squeeze its way into tight spaces and over uneven terrain. Natch, the research is funded by DARPA, so there are potential military apps. Robo-slug spies, perhaps?

The crawler could also have medical applications, such as implants, endoscopes, and prosthetics.

But one of its most remarkable features is that it can take quite a beating. As seen in the video below, researchers stepped on it and even took a hammer to it, but Meshworm inched away unscathed.

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